Climbing roses are not climbers in the sense that many vines are, since they do not send out tendrils or other growths to attach them to their supports. Instead, climbers have long canes that are usually tied to a support to keep them from arching to the ground. Some climbers have more pliable canes than others; the stiffer types are best trained upright to a pillar or a trellis, while the more pliable ones can be trained horizontally on a fence, which also induces plants to increase their blooming. Most climbers produce loose clusters of flowers that bloom on old (last year’s) wood, and most are fairly winter hardy. Many climbers, though not all, repeat their bloom throughout the season.
Ramblers are the predecessors of climbers. Although many have disappeared from the marketplace in favor of the larger-flowered climbers, some are still available and worth growing. Ramblers are generally much larger plants than climbers, with small flowers that are borne in large clusters on new wood. Most ramblers bloom only once a year, and most are very winter hardy. Although they can be allowed to sprawl, they produce tidier plants if they are tied to a pillar, a fence, or some other support.
Here you will find floribundas, polyanthas, hybrid teas, and even species roses. Often the distinction between bush and climber is blurred, as in the case of many of the English roses, which through pruning can be maintained as shrubs, or can be allowed to stretch their canes and be trained to climb up a trellis.
- ‘Alberic Barbier’ Roses (Introduced – 1900)
- Clusters of shapely yellow buds of ‘Alberic Barbier’ open to creamy white flowers with a yellow blush. Semi- double and double blossoms are 2 to 3 inches across and bear a moderate, fruity fragrance. Plants flower heavily in early summer and may repeat, although not reliably, in the fall. Glossy dark leaves are almost evergreen and are carried on purplish canes.
This easy-to-grow rambler requires a lot of space, since canes may grow 20 feet in a single season. This rose can be trained on fences or pillars, or may be used to cover a building, especially in areas where mildew is not a problem. Tied canes often produce lateral stems that arc downward for a graceful display. This rose can also be used as a ground cover. ‘Alberic Barbier’ is extremely disease resistant and tolerates light shade and hot, dry climates.
- ‘Albertine’ Roses (Introduced – 1921)
- The buds of ‘Albertine’ open to bright orange-pink double blooms that are golden at the base. Produced in abundant clusters in summer, the cupped, fragrant flowers put on a spectacular show that endures for about 3 weeks. As the blooms age, they fade to a soft blush pink. Leaves are glossy green with coppery red tones. Canes bear numerous hooked prickles.
This vigorous rambler is fast growing and easily trained to a trellis, pergola, or arbor. This rose can also be grown as a freestanding shrub. The rose may be prone to mildew after flowering, but it is otherwise disease resistant.
- ‘Altissimo’ Roses (Introduced – 1966)
- The large, single flowers of ‘Altissimo’ are 4 to 5 inches across, with seven velvety, deep blood red petals surrounding bright yellow stamens. Blooms occur in small clusters and sometimes singly on both old and new growth, beginning in summer and repeating throughout the season. Although they have only a light scent, the blossoms last a long time without fading, and they make beautiful cut flowers. Leaves are large and dark green.
While generally classed as a climber that is suitable for growing on pillars, fences, and trellises, ‘Altissimo’ rose can also be grown as a tall, freestanding shrub with an upright habit. This rose is vigorous, heat tolerant, and disease resistant.
- ‘America’ Roses (Introduced – 1976)
- Named to honor the United States bicentennial, ‘America’ produces 3 1/2 – to 5-inch double blossoms in great profusion throughout the season. Flowers are coral colored with high centers and are usually borne in clusters; their fragrance is strong and spicy. Foliage is semi-glossy, dark, and leathery.
Plants are upright and bushy, and are suitable for training on pillars, fences, and walls. Flowers, produced on both new and old shoots, can be cut for long-lasting indoor arrangements. ‘America’ rose is easy to grow, disease resistant, and hardy.
- ‘American Pillar’ Roses (Introduced – 1902)
- The five-petaled single blossoms of ‘American Pillar’ are carmine-pink with white centers and golden stamens. Erupting once in midsummer, they are produced in large clusters that almost cover the entire plant. Flowers have no scent. Leaves are leathery, large, and dark green; canes are green and prickly.
The plant is very vigorous, growing to 20 feet, and is best used for climbing on a fence or arbor. Like other ramblers, this rose may be subject to mildew.
- ‘Blaze’ Roses (Introduced – 1932)
- Clusters of cup-shaped scarlet blossoms occur on both old and new wood of ‘Blaze’ throughout the growing season. Flowers are semi-double, 2 to 3 inches across, lightly fragrant, and nonfading, even in hot weather. Early flowers are somewhat larger than those produced later in the season. Dark green leathery foliage contrasts nicely with the continuous show of blooms.
This easy-to-grow rose has a vigorous, upright habit, and its canes are quick to reach their height of 12 to 15 feet, making it a good choice for fences, arbors, pillars, and porches. This rose is quite hardy but is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew.
- ‘Butterscotch’ Roses (Introduced – 1986)
- Hybridizer William Warriner originally wanted to name this rose ‘Coffee and Cream’, a name that closely evokes its unusual tannish to golden brown color that fades as the flowers mature. Perhaps he should have, since the name ‘Butterscotch’ still technically belongs to a hybrid tea introduced in 1942. The slightly fragrant, 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-inch flowers have 25 loosely cupped petals and bloom in small clusters all season. Plants are slow growing to 8- to 10- feet and have medium green, semi-glossy foliage.
- ‘Chevy Chase’ Roses (Introduced – 1939)
- This rambler has masses of small (1- to 2-inch), dark crimson-red, fragrant flowers with 65 petals that bloom in large clusters, once per season. Plants are vigorous, attaining heights of about 15 feet, and have soft, light green, wrinkled leaves.
- ‘City of York’ Roses (Introduced – 1945)
- The semi-double cup-shaped blooms of ‘City of York’ are creamy white with yellow centers and are pleasantly fragrant. They appear once per season over a lengthy period in the spring in large clusters of seven to 15 flowers. Leaves are glossy and leathery.
This vigorous rose is very effective in the spring, when its abundant pale blooms create a dramatic contrast against lush, dark foliage. This rose is tolerant of partial shade and can be grown on a north wall. It’s also a good choice for a trellis.
- ‘Don Juan’ Roses (Introduced – 1958)
- This rose produces extremely large, fragrant flowers, singly or in small clusters, throughout the growing season. The dark red, nearly black buds are oval and open slowly to reveal 4- to 5-inch high-centered or cupped blossoms with a deep velvety color that is among the darkest of all red roses. Flowers are borne on long stems, making them ideal for cutting. Leaves are dark and glossy.
‘Don Juan’ rose is a moderate to vigorous grower with an upright habit. Deadheading spent blossoms will encourage re-bloom. The plant is very effective on a pillar, fence, wall, or trellis. Although not extremely hardy, its disease resistance is good.
- ‘Dorothy Perkins’ Roses (Introduced – 1901)
- Pale rose-pink, 2- to 3-inch flowers are fragrant, fully double and decorative, blooming over dark green, shiny leaves. This rambler is vigorous, growing 10- to 20- feet high, but it blooms only once per season.
- ‘Dortmund’ Roses (Introduced – 1955)
- Technically, this rose is one of the Kordesii shrubs, but because of its extreme vigor, this rose is nearly always grown as a climber. Like the other Kordesii shrubs, ‘Dortmund’ rose descends from a cross between the memorial rose (Rosa wicburaiana) and R. rugosa, and so it is exceptionally hardy and disease resistant. Its glossy, holly like foliage sets off the large, slightly ruffled, single, red blooms, each with a white eye surrounding the central knot of brilliant yellow stamens. Deadhead the flowers to encourage repeat bloom; leave them to wither on the stems in the fall so that you can enjoy the pretty orange hips. But beware of the jumbo thorns.
- ‘Dr. J.H. Nicolas’ Roses (Introduced – 1940)
- Globular, 4- to 5-inch flowers of medium rose-pink are borne in small sprays that give the plant an airy look. The fragrant flowers, with 50 petals, bloom repeatedly against dark green, leathery foliage. This variety grows best upright on a 10-foot pillar or trellis.
- ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’ Roses (Introduced – 1910)
- Cameo pink flowers fade to flesh white as they mature. They are 2 to 3 inches across and bloom only once a year. The fragrant double flowers are high-centered at first but open quickly into flat, decorative blooms. Dark green, small, glossy foliage clothes this vigorous climber that can grow 15- to 20- feet high.
- ‘Dublin Bay’ Roses (Introduced – 1976)
- Produced in clusters, the 4- to 4 1/2-inch blood red flowers of ‘Dublin Bay’ appear continuously from spring until frost. Blooms are double, cupped, and fragrant. They have a velvety texture and show off well against the rich green foliage.
The plant is somewhat slow growing. This rose can perform as a shrub during its first few seasons and then become a fine climber with an upright, well branched habit, perfect for a low fence, pillar, stone wall, or trellis. ‘Dublin Bay’ rose is disease resistant.
- ‘Etain’ Roses (Introduced – 1953)
- This rambler has slightly fragrant, salmon-pink, 3-inch double flowers borne in large clusters. The leaves are glossy, reddish brown, and almost evergreen in milder climates. The open plant is vigorous, growing 10- to 12- feet high, and quickly covers slopes or fences. This is one of the few ramblers that repeats its bloom and grows best in light shade.
- ‘Excelsa’ Roses (Introduced – 1909)
- Sometimes called ‘Red Dorothy Perkins’, this rambler has medium red, double, cupped, ruffled, 2-inch flowers that are borne in large, heavy clusters. Rich green, glossy leaves cover 12- to 18-foot plants that bloom only once per season.
- ‘Fortune’s Double Yellow’ Roses (Introduced – 1845)
- The clusters of loosely double flowers of this popular old climber have been described as apricot with rose shades, salmon tinged with red, yellow tinged with copper, and so on. However you describe it, the colors are captivating and contrast nicely with the delicate, apple green foliage. This rose blooms heavily in springtime, and thrives in both the Southeast and the Southwest. Indeed, ‘Fortune’s Double Yellow’ rose has escaped from cultivation to naturalize in southern California, which testifies to the ease with which this rose may be cultivated. Although it can be grown as a sprawling shrub, this rose is most effective as a climber; it is spectacular when the canes have been trained up into the limbs of an open-canopied tree, to spill back down to the ground in a curtain of golden blossoms.
- ‘Gloire de Dijon’ Roses (Introduced – 1853)
- Though classified as a climbing tea rose, this cultivars blossoms have the look of its Bourbon rose parent, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. The flowers of ‘Gloire de Dijon’ are large, round, quartered, buff yellow with pink-apricot shading, and have a rich fragrance. ‘Gloire de Dijon’ rose begins the season with a heavy crop of flowers and then repeats well into the fall. This rose is a good source of cut flowers.
- ‘Golden Showers’ Roses (Introduced – 1956)
- This relatively short-caned climber bears large, ruffled, semi-double, daffodil yellow blooms with red stamens, providing a large flush of flowers in late spring or early summer, then faltering a bit and producing another big flush in fall. Although ‘Golden Showers’ rose prefers full sun, it will tolerate some shade and so is a good choice when a rose is needed for a north-facing wall. By periodically pruning back the canes, this rose can be maintained as a large specimen shrub. This rose is somewhat cold sensitive and performs best in the Mid-Atlantic states and the South.
- ‘Goldstern’ Roses (Introduced – 1966)
- An exceptionally hardy climber. Although this rose was bred by another German nurseryman, Matt Tantau, it descends from the Kordes nursery. This rose is usually grown as a climber, though in a large spot and an informal planting, it could be allowed to sprawl. ‘Goldstern’ rose is especially good for cold, exposed sites. It bears clusters of long, pointed buds that open into 4 in (10cm) fully double flowers that are flattened like architectural rosettes. The fragrance of the flowers is only slight. The leaves are medium green, glossy, and usually healthy. The new foliage is pale green edged with red, making a pleasant contrast.
- ‘Handel’ Roses (Introduced – 1965)
- The cream-colored double flowers of ‘Handel’ are edged with rosy pink. They open from shapely spiraled buds to high-centered or cupped 3 1/2- inch blooms that produce a light fragrance. Blooms appear in abundance in early summer and repeat well through fall. Hot weather increases the pink flower color in both area and intensity. Foliage is olive green and glossy.
‘Handel’ rose grows upright and is a popular climber for pillars, walls, fences, and small structures because of its prolific flowering ability and the unusual coloring of its blooms. This rose tolerates light shade but is prone to black spot.
- ‘Henry Kelsey’ Roses (Introduced – 1984)
- A super hardy climber from Agriculture Canada’s explorer series of roses, in early summer ‘Henry Kelsey’ rose bears a heavy crop of clustered, vivid red, semi-double blooms with showy golden stamens and a spicy scent. After slacking off in July, it returns with a strong showing in late summer and early fall. ‘Henry Kelsey’ has demonstrated some susceptibility to blackspot but otherwise seems quite disease resistant.
Given lots of room, this rose may be allowed to sprawl as a wide, arching shrub, but this rose is more often trained as a climber on a split-rail fence or trellis.
- ‘Joseph’s Coat’ Roses (Introduced – 1964)
- The clusters of double blossoms of ‘Joseph’s Coat’ rose create an amazing riot of color, with yellows, pinks, oranges, and reds all present at the same time. The red and orange tones become more prominent in autumn. Buds are urn shaped, and unlike those of many climbers they occur on new wood. Flowers are 3-inch cups that are lightly fragrant, leaves are dark green and glossy, and canes are prickly.
The plant is tall and upright. This rose can be trained as a climber on a pillar, fence, or trellis or, because it is not very robust, can be allowed to grow as a loose, freestanding shrub. This rose is somewhat tender and prone to powdery mildew.
- ‘Martin Frobisher’ Roses (Introduced – 1968)
- The first of the Canadian explorer roses, this cultivar descends in part from the central Asian species Rosa rugosa, and in fact ‘Martin Frobisher’ is often classified as a hybrid rugosa. However you classify it, this rose shares its forebear’s vigor and immunity to cold. This rose may show some susceptibility to blackspot and rust, but in general it is a healthy plant.
The small, very double, soft pink rosettes are borne over a long season. Though ‘Martin Frobisher’ is technically a shrub, its narrow, upright habit lends itself to training along a fence or pillar.
- ‘May Queen’ Roses (Introduced – 1898)
- This rambler has a profusion of very double, quartered, 2-inch pink flowers with a fruity fragrance that open fairly flat. Plants occasionally repeat their bloom, an unusual ability for a rambler, and can grow to 25- feet. They can be allowed to climb or can be grown as a shrub.
- ‘Mermaid’ Roses (Introduced – 1918)
- This rose functions like floral white-out. Plant it next to an unsightly shed or an ugly fence and step back. ‘Mermaid’ rose will take a year or two to establish itself but then it will bury the eyesore with awesome speed, especially in warmer climates. The huge (5 in [13cm]), single, canary yellow blooms have showy golden stamens that remain attractive after the petals have fallen. The impressive thorns make ‘Mermaid’ an effective barrier but also make pruning a chore; plant this rose where you can let it roam at will.
- ‘Minnehaha’ Roses (Introduced – 1905)
- This rambler has small (1- to 2-inch), semi-double, slightly fragrant, flat flowers of light pink that fade to white and bloom in large clusters once a year. Plants grow 15- to 20- feet high and have small, shiny, dark green leaves.
- ‘New Dawn’ Roses (Introduced – 1930)
- This rose was regarded as so special when it was released onto the market that it received the first plant patent ever granted by the U.S . government. ‘New Dawn’ rose is an ever-blooming sport of an old, ironclad rambler named ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’, and the off-spring shares the parent’s toughness. This rose bears pearl pink, cupped, semi-double blooms that fade to a rose-cream color with bright gold stamens once fully open. This rose may be maintained as an open, arching shrub, but because of its extraordinarily vigorous growth, ‘New Dawn’ is usually grown as a climber. This rose is especially beautiful when trained up into a tree and allowed to cascade back down. Because this rose tolerates less than ideal conditions, it’s a good selection for a difficult site.
- ‘Paul’s Scarlet Climber’ Roses (Introduced – 1916)
- ‘Paul’s Scarlet Climber’ rose looks very similar to ‘Blaze’, its offspring, except that it rarely has recurrent bloom. Its large clusters of bright scarlet 2- to 3-inch flowers are semi-double, decorative, and slightly fragrant. Plants are very vigorous, growing 15- to 20- feet high, are quite winter hardy, and have dark green, glossy, disease-resistant foliage.
- ‘Pelé’ Roses (Introduced – 1979)
- Technically a climbing hybrid tea (for which there is no bush counterpart), ‘Pelé’ rose has 4-inch, double white flowers with 35 petals that are borne in small sprays all season and have a fruity fragrance. Upright canes grow to 10- feet in height and are clothed in medium green, triangular foliage and hooked thorns. This variety was named for the famous soccer player.
- ‘Pink Pillar’ Roses (Introduced – 1940)
- This rambler has a very distinct citrus fragrance. The long-lasting 2-inch flowers, which bloom repeatedly after opening from dark pink buds, have 16 to 20 petals and are a blend of pale pink, coral, and orange. The petals have scalloped edges and the flowers bloom in small clusters. Plants grow 7- to 8- feet high and are very winter hardy.
- ‘Piñata’ Roses (Introduced – 1978)
- Flowers are similar to ‘Joseph’s Coat’-yellow diffused with orange and red-but are somewhat larger (3 to 4 inches). The blooms, which are slightly fragrant, have 28 petals and open with a high center. Plants repeat bloom dependably and are strong enough to stand alone as a shrub. Canes are too stiff for training to a fence, but the plant may be grown on an 8-foot pillar.
- ‘Prairie Dawn’ Roses (Introduced – 1959)
- One of the prairie roses bred at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba, this tall, super hardy shrub rose has suffered little damage even in the near-arctic winters at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. This rose has also demonstrated some susceptibility to blackspot and leaf spot in the rose trials there, but in general this is a healthy rose.
‘Prairie Dawn’ rose bears semi-double, radiant pink flowers in repeated flushes throughout the season. These flowers are of moderate size, roughly 3 in (7 .6cm) in diameter, and are moderately fragrant. This is a terrific city shrub for fences or walls where the wind and exposure would kill other roses.
- ‘Red Fountain’ Roses (Introduced – 1975)
- Arching canes are filled with clusters of velvety dark red, very fragrant, ruffled and cupped 3-inch blooms with 20 to 25 petals that bloom all season. Plants are strong and vigorous, growing 12- to 14- feet high, making this a good pillar or trellis rose. Foliage is dark green and leathery
- ‘Rhonda’ Roses (Introduced – 1968)
- Hybridized by an amateur, ‘Rhonda’ rose has clusters of double, slightly fragrant, salmon-pink, 4-inch flowers that bloom repeatedly on vigorous, 8-foot plants over dark green, glossy foliage.
- ‘Royal Gold’ Roses (Introduced – 1957)
- Deep golden yellow, nonfading flowers are moderately fragrant, blooming heavily at the start of the season and then repeating sporadically. The 4-inch, cup-shaped flowers have 35 petals and bloom singly or in small clusters. Stiff, compact plants grow 5- to 10- feet high.
- ‘Royal Sunset’ Roses (Introduced – 1960)
- High-centered or cup-shaped, 4 1/2- to 5-inch flowers are fragrant and deep apricot, fading to light peach in summer heat. Repeat-blooming flowers have 20 petals. Leathery foliage is coppery green, disease resistant, and somewhat tender. Stiff plants grow about 6- feet high.
- ‘Silver Moon’ Roses (Introduced – 1910)
- The long, pointed yellow buds of ‘Silver Moon’ open to large creamy white single or semi-double flowers. Borne singly or in clusters, the flowers are 4 1/2 inches across with up to 20 petals that surround golden amber stamens. Blooms do not repeat. Their fragrance is fruity. Foliage is large, dark, leathery, and glossy.
‘Silver Moon’ rose is a very vigorous and strong climber, and may reach beyond 20 feet. Effective on a trellis or other support, it is also an ideal rose for training into a tree. Though somewhat shy about flowering, the blooms it does produce are outstanding.
- ‘Sombreuil’ Roses (Introduced – 1850)
- One of the hardiest of the tea roses, ‘Sombreuil’ is a glory of the South that can also be enjoyed throughout much of the North. This graceful old climber bears large, very double, cream-colored flowers that are quartered and flat when fully open. After blooming heavily at the beginning of the season, this rose will rebloom dependably. The foliage is glossy and leathery, providing a nice foil for the pale flowers.
‘Sombreuil’ is a vigorous but mannerly rose that is easily controlled -but don’t plant it near a walk, for it is very definitely thorny. Instead, ‘Sombreuil’ is at its best on a pillar, low wall, trellis, or any place you can enjoy its delicious tea scent in safety.
- ‘Tausendschön’ Roses (Introduced – 1906)
- ‘Thousand beauties” is the translation of this rose’s name, but that is an understatement. In fact, a well-grown specimen of this plant offers far more beauties than that when it buries itself under myriad clusters of small pompon blossoms for several weeks in early summer. These blossoms open a deep rose pink with white centers, then fade to a blushing white. As it’s nearly thornless, this rose is a good choice for a pillar or arch in a high-traffic area. Use it as a living trellis for a clematis to extend the season of bloom. Or let ‘Tausendschön’ rose sprawl and use it as a ground cover.
- ‘Tempo’ Roses (Introduced – 1975)
- An early bloomer, this is one of the first climbers to come into flower in the garden. Its deep red, high-centered, very double flowers are 3 to 4 inches across and bloom in clusters all summer on tidy, 8-foot plants. Flowers are long lasting and slightly fragrant. Dark green leaves are large, glossy, and very disease resistant.
- ‘Veilchenblau’ Roses (Introduced – 1909)
- This rose not only tolerates some shade, but it shows its best colors there. In a sunny spot, its reddish purple buds open to small, semi-double purple-violet flowers streaked with white and tufted with golden stamens. The scent of ‘Veilchenblau’ is that of oranges. In partial shade, the blossoms open lilac blue, as close to a true blue as you will find in a rose that has not been genetically engineered.
A vigorous climber, ‘Veilchenblau’ can be trained up a trellis, or the canes can be infiltrated into the branches of a small tree, where they will scramble up in a beautifully informal display. Providing good air circulation around this rose is particularly important in a shaded site if the foliage is to remain free of powdery mildew.
- ‘White Dawn’ Roses (Introduced – 1949)
- This was the first and is still the best white-flowered climber. Its fragrant, clustered, snow white, 3-inch flowers are gardenia shaped, double (35 petals), and repeat blooming. Foliage is glossy, and the plants are vigorous, growing to 15 feet, and winter hardy.
- ‘William Baffin’ Roses (Introduced – 1968)
- Although all the Canadian explorer roses are tough, this one may be the toughest. Not only will ‘William Baffin’ tolerate winter temperatures that plunge to -50°F (-45°C), but it is also practically disease free when planted in the North. Although this rose can be grown as a tall shrub, it looks best when tied in and disciplined as a climber. This rose blooms steadily throughout the summer and into the fall, bearing large clusters of 3 in (7.5 cm) strawberry pink blossoms with white centers marked by knots of showy yellow stamens. Remember this rose for your hour of need: it flourishes on the kind of windy, exposed sites where few other climbers will survive.
- ‘Yellow Blaze’ Roses (Introduced – 1989)
- This sport of the floribunda ‘Sun Flare’ has clusters of 3-inch, double, showy bright yellow flowers with 25 to 30 petals and a light licorice fragrance. Repeat-blooming plants grow 12- to 14- feet high with glossy, disease-resistant leaves.
- ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ Roses (Introduced – 1868)
- Parents of small children will appreciate this Bourbon rose’s thornless stems; this characteristic also makes it a good selection for running up an arch over a busy path, since it won’t snag passersby. Traditionally, ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ rose has been espaliered against a wall or trellis, though it can also be allowed to sprawl as an outsize shrub in an informal cottage-type garden. Deliciously fragrant, loosely cupped, cerise-pink blooms appear almost continuously through the season. This rose has a delicious old-rose fragrance.